Thursday, June 26, 2014

Theme Thursday: Swim! - King of the Cannonball and Other Impressive Moves

Hellloooooo there!!

After being completely off the grid for a week, I am happy to be back (sort of) in the sphere of blogging. I've missed you guys!! {*hugs*} Today, the blogging stars must have magically aligned just for me, because I actually experienced one solid hour of feeling caffeinated + oldest son proving he's the best baby holder ever + rest of the crew enjoying rainbows, sunshine and unicorns in the basement (or whatever kept them entertained - some things are better left a mystery).

Perhaps a more prudent way to spend the star-aligned hour would have been to soak-n-scrub a pile of spit-up stained laundry or unpack my bags from the hospital, but I confess to procrastination all for the sake of participating in my first ever Theme Thursday link-up at the ever-popular Clan Donaldson.

Today's theme: Swim

{I really can't wait to share Joseph's birth story with you, but I think I'm going to need a little quality quiet time to unfold all the details. Honestly, we thought Charlie's birth story was tops, but nope, this one tops them all.  Need a teaser? Think swimming lessons, wheat harvest, a plethora of newborn puppies and a baby all wrapped up in one happy little day. I promise to tell the tale soon!}

Now on to the swimming!  George and Henry are both taking swimming lessons this summer. George is in a technique class and Henry in a beginner class.  George would love to join the community swim team, but first needs some coaching to refine his flailing into actual strokes.

Mystery Stroke....classic George!
Cannonball....A Husband specialty!!
Of all the boys, Henry has been the most timid when it comes to being in or near the water.  We tried lessons last summer, but he was miserable, so instead of forcing him to learn, I decided to just relax and wait until he was ready to go for it.
This summer, he has completely turned a corner.  With every lesson he's become more confident in the water, and all of his apprehension has quickly turned into joyful enthusiasm. I am so thankful, because it's always been really important to me that the boys to learn how to swim well, and to have fun along the way.
Our family loves to go tubing and water skiing, and knowing that all of the boys can swim well gives me peace of mind and peace of heart whenever we are involved in any water recreation sport, which may include survival games like dunking, chicken and Marco Polo. We are a family of boys, so this is how we roll. Polite hotel swimmers, girls doing graceful handstands, *ahem* my apologies in advance.

On the final day of the first session of lessons, each student had their chance to jump off of the diving board.  Henry was last.
He proudly stepped up on the board, shuffled to the end, and with hands on hips, shouted out to the teacher, "Are you ready??" Then, he proceeded to jump up and out with all his might shouting, "Aaaggghhh!!!" at the top of his lungs.
I'm not sure if it was his plan or not, but he succeeded in dunking his sweet, patient teacher who was waiting all along to catch him.  They both popped up out of the water laughing, Henry's arms wrapped tightly around her neck.  "That was awesome, Henry!" she said.
Without a doubt, he knew she was right!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

5 {Favorite} Lady Like Lovelies

Happy Wednesday, Friends!! Last night around midnight, when I should have been resting up for this labor and delivery that really is going to happen at any moment (fingers crossed) I was blogging instead, because the book I had spent an hour reading, hoping it would make me sleepy, actually just made me think and think and think.

Anyway, while mulling over hot blogging topics, I remembered that today is 5 Favorites over at Moxie wife, so I decided to whip up a little list for those of you who dig the 5 Fave.  Even though my swollen, Oompa-Loompa figure isn't exactly the epitome of summer sassy, I thought I'd share a few of my favorite lady-like lovelies that keep me from feeling 41+ weeks frumpy.

- 1 -
Sometime during my college years I developed an acute sensitivity to fragrances, and exposure to them typically leads to a full on migraine headache. Even though I love how lovely the perfect fragrance can make you feel, I'm really limited to the lotions and perfumes that I can wear.  A couple of days ago I decided to venture outside of my standard scent and try something new. Running through Target, I stopped at a Sonia Kashuk fragrance display and was pleasantly surprised that none of the lotions or fragrances triggered a headache at all! The pink innocencia is my favorite - light, fresh, floral and super-feminine. 

- 2 - 
I don't know what it is about a pair of earrings that just makes me feel a little more polished, no matter what I'm wearing.  I'm a sucker for Stella & Dot jewelry, and the Isla Drop Earrings are perfect for summer.  

- 3 -
This is the perfect combination of lipstick and lip gloss. It's the one lip-product I reach for every day, and while I have really enjoyed wearing a wide variety of colors, peach parfait is my favorite. At around $6 a tube, it's a bargain beauty!

- 4 -  
Chalk it up to hormones or aging or both, but the past two pregnancies for me have not been glowing ones.  At the moment of conception, my face freaks out. All of the wicked dry patches and dark spots make my usual make-up less routine a little less comfortable.  Since my standard exfoliation product started feeling a little irritating, a few months ago, I decided to give the full strength Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel a try, and I must say that I'm hooked.  If you're not a fan of grainy, abrasive exfoliates, give this a try.  It's a little pricey, but lasts a long time.  I use it twice a week and after 6 months, the jar isn't empty yet! (FYI: I purchased mine at Ulta with a coupon.)

- 5 -  
Dusting your feet with powder, especially in the summer, before slipping your shoes on is one tip I learned from my mom that I've been using since high school.  I like to sprinkle it inside of all of my shoes to keep them fresh, and applying a little before slipping my sandals on keeps the funky feet smell at bay.  The dusting powder from Burts Bees has a light, fresh scent and its super-fine form is easy to apply.

Do you have any favorite products to add to my list of lovelies?? 
Please, do tell!

More goodies right here!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Father's Day Recap 2014

As the boys get older, and their bonds with Steve grow ever closer, I find myself enjoying the celebration of Father's Day more and more.  This year, I was certain that baby would have arrived by now and therefore my plans to have a big BBQ, homemade ice-cream and an outdoor theatre created for movie night would have been a smashing success.

But, you know. You know, you know, you know that my big plans never bloomed out of the planning stage because baby aint' here yet!

But, I did manage to shuffle around the kitchen and whip up a little sumpin' special for breakfast, and, thankfully, the boys poured their ever-lovin' little hearts into creating special messages for their papa, fill-in-the-blank style.  I must say I was really impressed with their dish-washing efficiency as well as their surprisingly successful attempt to keep the crazy under control long enough for dad to get in a deep drooling nap, because it's not a real nap unless you drool.

I appreciate, admire and adore Steve for more reasons than I could ever count. One of those you're-the-best-husband-ever reasons is that he fields all of the manly questions that I could never handle without Google and Tylenol. Questions like: Is a 243 bigger than a 7mm? (We're talking guns, not camera lenses here, in case you were wondering.) Or, Does Fendt make a 939 model? (Fendt = Tractors)

They also like to impress him with questions that are meant to be conversation starters, questions that they know Steve will respond enthusiastically to such as, Did you know that LeBron James never played college ball? He went straight out of high school to the pros!

He also handles all requests for paintball wars, hunting trips, playing golf and building large contraptions that require accurate measurements and the proper use of loud and dangerous power tools. All of these "tough" questions make inquiries such as "what's for supper" and "have you seen my slingshot, because I need to kill the rabbit eating the lettuce in your garden?" a a cake walk in the mental park for me!

After the last cinnamon roll was scraped from the pan, it was time for the boys to give daddy their little notes. What I thought was going to be kind of a generic form of expression (fill-in-the-blanks on plain white paper isn't really the poetic expression sprinkled with rainbow glitter that I had in mind) actually ended up being quite humorous and beautifully endearing at the same time.
Each boy wanted to be close to their dad while he read their notes, and they insisted that he read them aloud. Steve was really touched by how much the boys knew about him, and as they affectionately awaited his reaction to their gifts, I could see the depths of their need for him to understand just how much they love him, and to know how his example and presence in their lives is of inexpressible value and worth.
 {Henry} My dad is funny because: He teases me.  My Dad thinks I'm funny when: I tease him!
 {George} My favorite thing about my Dad is: He makes life fun.
{Andrew} My favorite thing about my dad is: He is always ready to have fun and he is dedicated to us.
 {Benedict} My favorite thing about my Dad is: He is always there for me through thick and thin.
{Charlie} I just like it when we match.

Here's to all the great dads out there!!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Bundle Your Love - "Happy Anniversary!" From the Kids

On Tuesday, Steve and I celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary!! Wahoo!!  In many ways the day was filled with ordinary activity - work, chores, errands, feeding hungry tummies, running boys to weight lifting and swimming lessons, and me trying not to dwell on reasons why my uterine tenant will not heed his/her eviction notice.

Despite our flying through the day in different directions, we did live those ordinary hours with an extra-ordinary awareness of and a deeper gratitude for our love and our life together, and especially for the beautiful family that God has graciously blessed our marriage with.
The night before Steve dug out our wedding video, VHS style. I'm pretty sure it's the first time we had actually watched it together, and with the kiddos encamped around us, it was more hilarious than sentimental! They all quickly commented on how the TV must not be working because the picture was dull and distorted.  Welcome to the pre-high-def decades, sons.  The only one who took the trip down memory lane seriously was Benedict, who kept trying to shush his brothers' hilarious narrations of the event.

Roll the clock back 14 years and everyone looks just a skosh different, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles included.  George wanted to know why he wasn't in the video, so we had to clear that one up for him.  He also needed to know exactly how long it took me to look that fancy, after which Steve lovingly remarked, "You were so beautiful that day, honey." He was promptly scolded by Andrew for using the past tense in his complement, "Were, Dad, were???"

Andrew's analysis of the wedding was that getting married is a lot like the Progressive Auto insurance slogan - "It's Better When You Bundle."  When you get married you bundle your love and it's just better that way. 

The new hashtag for wedded bliss this summer? #bundle

After enjoying a lovely Italian supper together that evening we came home to a quiet house, everyone tucked in and snoozing songfully, and found the most amazing "Happy Anniversary" message taped to our door...
Elena, a friend of ours who is staying with us this summer to help me with boys and baby, taped their collective message to our door so we would be sure to see it when we got home.  We immediately fell on our knees, together scanning every square inch of their artwork, savoring every single silly little drawing and thoughtful notes of sweet cheer and thanksgiving over and over.

Their gift was by far the sweetest highlight of our day.
My personal favorites were all the stick drawings they created of Steve and his big biceps working out at Cross Fit. Scream! 
Sometimes you wonder if the little things you do every single day for your children, the example you try to set, lessons you sincerely teach, sacrifices you offer really do make a difference.  You wonder, in the midst of their fighting or in moments of ingratitude and selfishness, if any of your love is really reaching your kids' core - the place deep down where you know the goodness is anchored and will remain there for life. 

You wonder as well, if all that love and sacrifice you give is strong enough to uproot the countless shortcomings and all too many mistakes you've made over the years as a parent.

Then, you see this: 
Exhale. There is love here. A real love that they see and know and feel. They are living it, and they are thankful for it.

And there's this:
A little thanks, a little encouragement to keep going, to keep giving.  We've always said that the real gift of children lies in their natural ability to draw us closer to Christ, to help us become more dependent on Him, to know our every weakness so that we can be made strong in His might.  

I have not forgotten the words of a wise friend who once told me, "We parent on our knees."  This is truth beyond telling for any parent who desires more than anything for their children to one day know Heaven as home. But, it's also true that every once in a while, it's supremely comforting to be able to rise up from our knees and see the fruits of sacrifice, if only in a note posted to a door, and to celebrate them all.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Days of Our {Waiting For Baby} Lives

You guys, I wish that this baby story was moving a long a little faster than a soap opera script, but you know the Good Lord's timeline is rarely synced to my personal family calendar or my biological clock or my list of reasonable reasons why four days ago would have been a perfect time to give birth.

In the mean time, while I wayyyyyyyyyt for the ol' uterus to wake up and show this baby who's boss, I'm doing my best just to savor life as it is, and to be truly present to all that is happening right here, right now.

There's a few things that truly are helping me stay off the self-pity train...

1.  Surprises...
On Friday night the fam dashed into Target to grab a few things, and while I was deliberating over the ever-engrossing 1,000 varieties of mascara, the boys snuck away for a few minutes and returned to the make-up isle with a lovely bouquet of flowers just for me!
They were so proud of themselves, telling me in great detail how they know I love yellow and how they each pooled their money together instead of buying more gum and Hot Wheels because they knew that flowers would cheer me up!  They were so right!

It's magical how flowers can suddenly fade all of the brawling, bickering and complaining that's been brewing amongst the boys here lately.  *gasp*  Yes, it's true, our boys are normal (translation: they can be naughty, very naughty) amazing, but normal.

2.  Good Intentions...
I hope you all know that just because I haven't had the chance to truly "labor" over your prayer requests, it doesn't mean that I haven't already begun lifting every single intention up with love.  My sweet friend, Melissa, who creates all of the lovely jewelry at Divine Designs sent me the most beautiful, heavenly smelling candle.  It arrived on my doorstep at the perfect time, and I've been lighting it several times every single day in honor of all of you, who have been so kind as to share your requests with me.  

3.  Knowing I'm Not Alone...
{Chasing the boys and playing fetch has been replaced by full-time lounging and frequent naps}
A few weeks ago we discovered that our golden retriever, Rose, is also prego.  Let's just say she and another golden in the neighborhood busted out of the backyard fence to let their love "bloom." Their little rendezvous, at an undisclosed location in the neighborhood, should not have come to us as some great surprise since they had been howling at each other for weeks prior to the midnight soiree.  

The daddy's name is Bear if that's any indication of his size and stature.  So, more than likely Rose's bulging belly swagger is due to the Herculean pups she's carrying.  I really do feel sorry for her.  She's usually so sweet and spritely, but has become a bit of a Debbie Downer as of late.  

Maybe we're having sympathy pains for each other.

But, seriously, if she goes into labor before I do, I will no longer feel sorry for her. And, I'm going to cry. A lot.

Last night I ate spicy hot wings and managed to torque myself into a myriad of yoga poses that are supposed to be labor inducing.  Epic failure from both.  If it wasn't for the rain, I'd be out on the trampoline bouncing things into action right now.

If you have any tricks of your own to share, don't hold back, I'm just about ready to try anything!

Thanks for hanging in there with me!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Blue Moon Cooler - My Celebrating Baby Summer Sip

Before we get down to bizness - if you haven't signed up for the Father's Day giveaway, or sent me your prayer requests to take to the hospital, it's not too late!! After you print out my awesome summer beer recipe (below) you can follow this link to the giveaway and prayer post.

At 5:00 a.m. this morning I woke up wondering if the abdominal pain I was feeling was due to a full bladder, a mild gaseous reaction to the kale smoothie I heroically consumed (instead of chocolate) yesterday afternoon, or a legitimate contraction.

Turns out it was a mix of the three. Ooo-eee!!

Life around here feels pretty lined up and in order for my escape to the hospital, so blogging seems to be a good distraction from the uneventful contractions that I'm hoping will get revved up here soon....

Steve and I have been exchanging a lot of little thoughts that go something like: "I can't wait until ______________", or I just love it when ____________________," or "I have really missed __________________" (fill in anything and everything about having a newborn) - their soft little baby buns, falling asleep with the adorable milk drool running down a rosy cheek, breathing in their sweet, gentle scent as they rest peacefully on your chest....the list goes on!  

And, really the best way to enjoy adoring a newborn in the summer is by relaxing out on the porch with your feet up and a yummy sipper in hand, yes? The few weeks post delivery is the only time in life when I'm really good at ignoring the mountain of laundry growing faster than the deficit, a three day old bowl of spilled cheerios permanently fixed to the floor or the Lone Ranger videos that have been on repeat for 48 hours.

I must confess, however, that the baby party actually begins before the camp out on the porch...

For the past three births, family and friends have not come empty handed to the hospital. And, I'm not talkin' balloons and flowers here. No Sir Ree Bob! They come ready to celebrate, ready to toast, and we happily accept. I, more than anyone, enthusiastically look forward to their "gifts!" For George, it was Texas style margaritas, for Henry, mimosas, for Charlie, Crown and Coke, for this little angel - per mom's request - a summer beer.

My sister-in-law who, by the way, is beyond awesome, has kindly volunteered to be the bartender. That's when you know your friendship is reeeally real!

I'm honestly not trying to scandalize anyone here.  If you feel that you must tell me that I shouldn't sip a hop pop post delivery, feel free, I'll be checking blog comments and e-mails sometime next month. 
I thought I would post an extra enormous photo just in case you needed some convincing that this drink might actually taste good.  Anyway, if you enjoy a really good summer beer, something light, refreshing, cool and delicious, this recipe is a winner!!  

*Let's hope I'll be raising my glass to Baby Husband sooner than later - Cheers, everyone!!*

Monday, June 2, 2014

Send Me Your Requests! Plus a Fantastic Father's Day Giveaway!!

Happy Monday, Friends! As the days creep along closer to Friday - the 40 week mark - you can only imagine how much excitement there is in this house for the new little one's arrival!  Every day Charlie demands to know, "When's that baby gonna come outta dare?" Oh, how I wish I knew the answer to that!

Now that the bags are packed, the freezer is stocked full of meals, and the house is relatively clean, I feel ready to go.  There's just one last detail to take care of, and it's perhaps the most important. My sweet friend, Kathryn, who blogs at Team Whitaker just gave birth to her sixth(!) beautiful blessing, Gianna.  One of the things that helped her focus through the pain of labor/delivery was to meditate on list of prayer requests she took with her, requests from friends, family and from her readers.

I feel so inspired by the generosity of her heart, the offering of her pain for others, that I, too, would like to share in her idea.  I would be honored to take your prayer intentions with me to the hospital!  If you'd like to share your intention(s) in the comments below, please feel free to, if you would like to send me a private message, please write to:  Be as specific or as general as you like, just don't hesitate to share! I truly believe in the power of prayer, especially when it is united to a particular sacrifice or suffering!

Now, for the GIVEAWAY!! Father's day is right around the corner, and my inspiration for this giveaway came from a blog that my husband and I have really been inspired by over the past couple of months called The Catholic Gentleman. I frequently check out their Facebook page for inspiring quotes to share with our sons.  Here are just a couple of our favorites (there's many more!):
My husband wants to have a bunch of these quotes made into black and white prints to hang in his dream basement (probably somewhere between the bar and the poker table).  Sweet idea, eh?

On The C.G. blog, I discovered a link to a company called Cord Bands that creates truly rugged and masculine rosaries. The traditional sparkly jeweled rosaries are definitely beautiful, but not so practical, especially in a house full of boys. Does anyone else have a jar full of broken beads that need to be fixed, or is it just me??
These rosaries are perfect for guys.  The military inspiration gives them a cool, rugged look that is truly masculine. Besides offering specific rosaries for firefighters, law enforcement officers and soldiers, they also take requests for custom orders!  I love the rosary ring lanyards pictured above that can clip to a back-pack or belt loop - perfect for travel, for students or to keep in the car!
Any one of the beautiful medals pictured above can be added to any rosary as well.
In honor of Father's Day, I'm giving away one of the three rosaries pictured above to one lucky reader! (1. Rattlesnake, 2. Multicam or 3. St. Benedict)  The giveaway begins today and ends on Friday.  Happy Father's Day to all you awesome dads out there!!